Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare and the “Meat Tax”

The organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has announced its intention to call for an excise tax on meat, citing that meat is the “number one cause for climate change” and that a tax on meat could prevent future natural disasters.

I’m going to have to call bull on this one (pun intended).

First of all, I think that it is a far stretch to blame recent natural disasters on the fact that people consume meat. If that’s what you want to promote then provide some studies or statistics to back that up. I’m not all about glittering generalities. I want facts. Not quotes from two or three scientific seeming individuals, but cold-hard facts. If this meat tax is going to be considered as serious legislation, then long-term, peer reviewed research should be invested before making a willy-nilly accusations or decisions that will affect everyone.

Secondly, you are entitled to your opinion just like I am. And that’s what I feel this issue is—a matter of opinion. If you don’t want to eat meat—then don’t. I have no problem with vegetarianism or veganism. No, it’s not the life I’ve chosen but if that’s what makes you happy then go for it.

I have a problem with an organization that pushes for legislation on an issue that I feel is strictly a personal preference. I chose to eat meat, you don’t. We can still be friends. However, it is not right to restrict my freedom by placing barriers to something that has been acceptable as a means of providing nourishment to billions of people, for thousands of years. This is not the type of pork we need to be wasting our time with in Congress.

Ahhh…a deep cleansing breath. I’m climbing off of my soapbox now.

Let’s look at this from a different angle.

After I moved to Auburn, I was introduced to the terms animal welfare and animal rights. In my mind they were the same thing—making sure animals are well fed, healthy and safe. However, after a bit of research I discovered that these two terms are VERY different; that difference is a cause of disconnect between livestock producers (like me and Jared) and animal activist groups.

According to Wikipedia, animal rights “is the idea that the most basic interests of non-human animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings.” Meaning that animals should be afforded legal rights just like humans and considered a part of society; therefore they shouldn’t be used as food, clothing, in research or for entertainment.

Farmers and ranchers generally fall in the animal welfare category.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “an animal is in a good state of welfare if (as indicated by scientific evidence) it is healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, able to express innate behavior, and if it is not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress.”

Animals welfare is what we strive for everyday on our farm. We want all of our animals to be healthy, happy and safe while they are under our care.

And, in case you haven’t noticed, those cows that are pictured on the blog every week are more than dollar signs. They mean a lot to me and Jared (otherwise why would I waste my time naming all of them?)

For example, one of them was given to Jared by his grandfather who is no longer with us. Some of them are all I have left of my granddaddy’s original herd. We care about these animals for more than economic reasons. That’s why I get so fired up about animal rights activists telling the public that we don’t care about our animals because the offspring of these cows are harvested for meat.

But, we do care. Deeply.

In the end, this meat tax comes down to a philosophical disagreement. Just like the differences in religious beliefs and political opinions it probably won’t be resolved and will vary from person to person. However, if serious legislation is considered on this issue, I hope it goes forth with a great amount of research, consideration and care. Because this decision will affect more than the federal budget or PETA’s plan for total world domination (I’m kidding!)—it will affect families all across this nation. And, if the family can’t thrive, neither can the nation.

Now, I want to hear from y’all! What are your opinions on the meat tax? How do you feel about animal rights? Animal welfare? Let me know in the comment section!

Here’s a few helpful links to get you started:


Animals Rights: Wikipedia

Animal Welfare from American Veterinary Medical Association

Temple Grandin on Animal Welfare (PS—in case you’re wondering she’s the one that said “nature’s cruel but we don’t have to be!”)


7 thoughts on “Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare and the “Meat Tax”

    • Thanks for sharing, Larry. Great advancements have been made in humane animals slaughter over the last several years. I feel that this video has some good points but picks on slaughter houses that are the “bad apples” in the industry. When done right, animals can be given a quick and painless death prior to harvest.
      I noticed that the use of electricity was a reoccurring theme in the video. If you’re interesting in learning more about the changes that have been made related to the electrical immobilization (which is not a standard) and electrical stunning (which is), I suggest reading Temple Grandin’s work. She speaks (and acts) out strongly about livestock managers like those featured in the video that abuse animals and has been working to correct corporations like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, etc… Her work in electrical stunning is just a small part of the good she has done to make the industry a better place. You can check out her work at or on YouTube.
      Thanks again for sharing!

  1. This is so stupid! It would be funny if it weren’t so serious! And all this from a group of ignorant people who would rather see beautiful dogs killed on a highway or poisoned with anti-freeze. Now did thise dogs have a right to choose their moment of death caused solely by murderers working for PETA? I think not!

  2. From what I understand of biology the methane as a global warming gas people are forgetting that people also create a lot of methane gas. Perhaps first we should require everyone to take a daily dose of Beano! Despite that, termites, not cows, are rated as our worlds number one methane producing creature. I’m all for solving the termite problem first.

      • I picked up that tidbit at a Farm Bureau meeting. The presentation was called Myths and Misconceptions in Agriculture. I’m not sure if the program is still available. I tried to find my copy but failed.
        Another large producer of methane was swamps. Cows even come in below landfills. Did you know it is estimated that we once had more bison (buffalo) on the American plains than we now have cows. I bet they did their share of belching and farting.

  3. Haha I’m sure those bison did!

    I’m going to have to do a little research to see if I can find that presentation. I’m always looking for more facts and research on global warming and agriculture. Thanks for sharing!

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